Thundamentals return to Katoomba roots

Successful 2014: Blue Mountains hip-hop group Thundamentals, from left, DJ Morgs and MCs Jeswon and Tuka, will perform in Katoomba this Saturday.
Successful 2014: Blue Mountains hip-hop group Thundamentals, from left, DJ Morgs and MCs Jeswon and Tuka, will perform in Katoomba this Saturday.

When chart-topping group Thundamentals perform at Katoomba RSL Club this Saturday, it's safe to say it will be a concert to remember.

The hip-hop group got their start in the Blue Mountains a decade ago and local fans wasted no time in showing support for their homecoming appearance. Tickets to the 750-seat gig at sold out with virtually no publicity, with half the tickets snapped up on the first day.

But if Mountains fans are excited to have Thundamentals back where it all began, the feeling is definitely mutual.

"This concert is pretty much a hometown show just to celebrate that fact," said MC Tuka, who grew up in Medlow Bath.

"We missed the Mountains on our national tour [this year] and we felt like we were missing a limb by doing that so we wanted to come back with a bang."

The trio are certainly doing that. The group's third album, So We Can Remember, entered the ARIA album charts at number 3 this May, beaten only by the soundtrack for Disney blockbuster Frozen and the latest offering from Michael Buble. It followed the group's appearance on the ARIA singles chart in March for the song, Something I Said, which featured Hazelbrook's Thom Crawford on guest vocals. The group had even greater success on the urban album and singles charts and gained a slew of new fans after taking part in the regional touring festival, Groovin the Moo.

Crawford shared those regional stages with Thundamentals this year and will join them again in Katoomba on Saturday, along with the other guest artists from the album - all of whom hail from the Mountains.

"Compared to other regional places in Australia, the Mountains has something going for it creatively," said Tuka, 29. "We know a lot of musicians now, but for some reason we always go back to the Mountains... It's like family."

This Saturday's sold-out concert will be a far cry from the group's early gigs in Katoomba at the now-defunct TrisElies nightclub, a venue Tuka credits for getting the band to where it is today. It helped create a hub for hip-hop in the Mountains, he said, by giving young artists valuable performing experience away from the competitive crucible of Sydney.

While he admits his knowledge of the local live scene isn't as strong today, Tuka hopes the Blue Mountains will continue to nurture new artists.

"Hopefully gigs like this [on Saturday] will spark that passion... It's so amazing that people still support us even though we haven't lived there for a while. Hopefully it bleeds down to everyone else and we start to see some national standard of music coming out of there."

Now based in Newtown,Tuka said the group could never had predicted their eventual success when they started performing in Katoomba. Soccer and skateboarding were the pastimes that brought together the teenage friends who went on to form Thundamentals - DJ Morgs hails from Katoomba while MC Jeswon is from Mount Victoria.

"I didn't even know what an album was [back then]," said Tuka. "We just wanted to get a set together so we could play it live. We weren't even recording artists until years and years later."

It's these unassuming beginnings that Tuka hopes will show today's youth in the Mountains that anything is possible.

"That's pretty much all I want people in the Mountains to know about us: we're really average kind of guys," he said. "There's nothing overtly special about us other than the fact that we really love what we do. I know there's a lot of kids up there [in the Mountains] that kind of lack a lot of focus - and they are really passionate. It really is just a case of 'if you put the work in, and you really love it, then the universe is going to reward you for that'."


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